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Festivities, Parades Help Nation Kick Off New Year

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from Associated Press

Americans marked the start of the new year and the end of the holiday season Friday with the traditional football game marathon and lavish parades after a night that included everything from champagne-and-confetti bashes to alcohol-free celebrations.

Unusually mild temperatures brought more than 300,000 cork-popping revelers out to see the ball drop in New York’s Times Square.

“In the first moment, we were afraid,” said Luciana Zeccardi, who was visiting with two friends from Florence, Italy. “Then we saw the children and the policemen. With so many people, it’s grand.”

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Police reported few arrests.

Across the country, people marked the passing of 1992 with fireworks, dances and, in Falmouth, Pa., something called the “Lowering of the Goat.”

Following a “dip-and-dessert social,” about 400 people gathered to watch a life-sized stuffed fabric goat--given to the town by a woman from Falmouth, Canada--drop down a pole.

“It started in 1979 with an annual goat race as a practical joke and mushroomed into something out of our control,” said Chuck Hower, president of the Falmouth Civic Assn. “The Big Apple don’t have nothin’ on us.”

More than 80 cities staged “First Night” parties, with jugglers, dancing and food--but no alcohol.

“At your traditional parties, you usually end up leaving the kids at home with a baby-sitter while the parents go to some fancy affair,” said Zeren Earls, president of the Boston-based International Alliance of First Night Celebrations. “At First Night, they come to enjoy New Year’s Eve together.”

Chicago welcomed in the New Year with a lakeside fireworks show. But subzero windchills kept most people from enjoying it.

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Espresso replaced the previous night’s refreshments Friday at Donna’s Coffee Bar in Baltimore.

“They all look pretty hung over,” said waitress Charyn Pfeuffer, who needed a cup herself. “It’s been a rough morning.”

One of her customers was feeling a lot more chipper.

Steve Zinz, a builder, dropped in for a salad and coffee after an 8 a.m. business appointment.

“I’ve got to start 1993 making some money,” Zinz said. “After the kind of year we had, we need a new one that’s better.”

The Mummers Parade in Philadelphia was revamped this year because of falling attendance. The city established a no-drinking policy and asked participants to cut two hours off the show, which took 12 hours last year.

The changes failed to boost attendance; police said 100,000 people lined Broad Street, about the same number as last year, as about 15,000 performers in glittery costumes strutted 2 1/2 miles down the street on a crisp, sunny day.

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Not everyone followed the no-alcohol policy.

“This is our celebration,” said Mike Perry, a Mummer drinking beer with three others. “This is our New Year’s Eve.”

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